Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Programby Representative Dina Titus
Posted on 2014-01-15
in the house of representatives
Wednesday, January 15, 2014
Ms. TITUS. Mr. Speaker, nearly 350,000 Southern Nevada residents
regularly struggle to secure enough food to feed themselves and nurture
During the recent recession, demand for nutrition assistance increased dramatically. As a result, charitable organizations across the country have been asked to do more with less. In my district, Three Square Food Bank has witnessed former donors becoming clients due to layoffs and long-term unemployment.
As the Farm Bill is finalized, I'd like to urge the members of the joint committee to protect funding for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program and reauthorize categorical eligibility so Southern Nevadans struggling in this economy can continue to access the programs they rely on to make ends meet.
Let me tell you about Jennifer who lives in Southern Nevada. Jennifer, her two children, and her sister are considered a household under existing law. They live together, buy food together, and eat meals together as a family. Jennifer and her sister each own a car, which they rely on to get to work on time every day. These are not luxury cars; both are eight years old and in need of repair.
The problem for Jennifer and her family is that the SNAP program has strict eligibility requirements that make it very difficult for families with even moderate assets, like aging cars, to qualify for the nutrition assistance program. Categorical eligibility helps solve this problem by recognizing that many low-income families who qualify for other assistance programs also need basic food assistance. If categorical eligibility is eliminated, Jennifer and millions of other low-income families with gross incomes or assets just above the federal SNAP limit would become ineligible for SNAP benefits simply because of the value of the modest cars they own.
Categorical eligibility has been demonized in recent months, but it plays a critical role in helping families like Jennifer's access the programs they need so that their basic expenses are met each month. It also enables these families to keep assets, like an aging car, without having to make the difficult choice between food assistance and transportation. This is especially important for the nearly 40,000 unemployed Nevadans who need a reliable vehicle to search for jobs and secure employment once they've been hired.
I urge the members of the joint committee to protect the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program and maintain categorical eligibility so working families like Jennifer's can continue to receive this vital food assistance.